Hotel Renovation Benefits Richmond VA Families

February 25, 2012
The CARITAS Furniture Bank has been all hustle and bustle this new year, collaborating with community partners to ensure the efficient and organized arrival of its largest donation to date, the entire contents of the former Ramada Hotel in Henrico. The 375 rooms worth of inventory are expected to serve about 450 families over six months. Details of Genworth Financial’s gracious donation made its debut in the local news this Valentine’s Day, but the heart of this story, the lives this donation is changing, continues to unfold.
“You’ve got to hear this,” Spencer Slater, a CARITAS employee and alumni of The Healing Place, exclaimed as he rolled into his coworker’s office. “This client came through the Furniture Bank this morning and called back this afternoon to thank us.” All we could hear through the phone were her outbursts of “thank you’s” between her sobs of tears; this was a woman humbled beyond words. Another client shared that her family had been sleeping on palettes before visiting the Furniture Bank and taking home new beds for her children. She, too, was overwhelmed with thanks for the bounty she received.
Up to 20 families each week have benefited from the quality mattresses, dressers, chairs, lamps, linens, towels and other household items that now demand the space of our large warehouse. But just as each item must be packaged and loaded up on a truck to head to its new home, so did it once move from the old Ramada to the Furniture Bank. It was the hard work of many hands and able bodies that came together to deliver the donation here in the first place.
The CARITAS Furniture Bank’s own team of staff, AmeriCorps members and volunteers expanded this winter when Director Karen O’Brien saw this large-scale donation as an opportunity to create transitional employment for CARITAS Works graduates and clients of The Healing Place. In addition to maintaining the usual fast-pace operations at the Furniture Bank, this special projects team partnered with Genworth, the Ramada hotel staff, Hilldrup Moving and Storage Company, Winns Hauling, and Estes Trucking to manage the logistics of organizing and transporting the 300 tons of inventory.
It was this unique donation that called for such a diverse breadth of teamwork, but it was the spirit of servant-leadership, central to CARITAS’ values, that made this undertaking such a multi-faceted success. Moving forward, Genworth’s own employees have committed to volunteering their afternoons to sorting through and preparing the donations for our client area. Other local agencies and individual volunteers are likewise taking this opportunity to get involved. From the men who were given transitional employment and new work skills to enhance their resumes, to the regular volunteers who discovered their strength while lifting and loading the incoming donations, to the group of retired friends who come each Thursday to utilize their restoration skills in our woodshop, and the stream of households affected by their dedication, new life is found in old objects after all.